A charming tale that explores responsibility, forgiveness, and the effects of war and balances it all with a strong dose of...

The Cave of Healing


In Haponski’s debut middle-grade fantasy novel, a veteran comes to terms with his war experiences and bonds with his granddaughter during visits to a subterranean world.

Henry is a veteran of an unnamed war who lives alone. He drove away his wife, daughter, and granddaughter after a descent into alcoholism caused by his inability to cope with his combat experiences. While walking his dog in the woods, he meets a boy named Squiggly from the world of In, who has skin that’s “almost translucent, similar to thin, white alabaster.” He’s convinced that Squiggly is a hallucination, but he answers the boy’s questions about our world, which Squiggly calls “Out.” Later, Henry begins to look forward to meeting the boy during his own daily walks with his dog, Mugs. He and Mugs eventually travel with Squiggly to In, where they ride on a blind cavefish, dine on wolf-spider eggs, and meet Squiggly’s family. However, Henry continues to believe that the other world is just a figment of his imagination. It’s not until he meets a therapist from In that he begins to understand how the place has allowed him to deal with the effects of war. Back in his own world, Henry gives up drinking, goes back to his own therapist, and begins to reconcile with his family. His granddaughter, Peggy, however, resists his efforts to reconcile until she makes her own visit to In, which allows her to understand and connect with her grandfather. In the book’s final section, she and Henry return to In for a dog show and have further encounters with cave creatures that are both endearing and terrifying. The book does a good job of presenting veterans’ challenges in an age-appropriate manner, showing the horrors that drive Henry without relying on graphic descriptions of violence. The book also makes it clear that recovery is an ongoing process. The world of In, whose inhabitants occasionally exhibit elements of aboveground culture, provides plenty of comic relief, particularly when Peggy watches a game of “fairball”—a variation of baseball in which the objective is to help the other team win.

A charming tale that explores responsibility, forgiveness, and the effects of war and balances it all with a strong dose of humor.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5234-7185-0

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Caves and Kids Books

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.


Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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